Saturday, November 13, 2010

"That Mom"

Whoa.  You would not believe the stupidity in our house in the last month or so (or maybe you would, LOL).  To explain it properly, I need to remind you that some time ago it was discovered that our roof was leaking.  DH and I both knew that we had to find a way to get that fixed before winter.  Our house is divided into three parts.  The first part (including basement) was built in 1910.  That part actually burned down later, so the basement was built in 1910, and the house part on top of it was built in 1917.  An addition was added on in the 1940's to add a bathroom and laundry room (before that, the house did not have indoor plumbing).  Then in the 1970's, the "big part" of the house was added on, providing a living room and another bedroom.  It's the part that was added on in the '40s that needed roofing the most.  Since doing the entire house was not financially feasible at this time, I/we opted to just do the 1940's part, which is the part that was leaking the worst.

I had managed to save up $2000 to pay someone to get this done, as I knew that DH could not be depended on to be able to get it done and I (with my new job) (and serious lack of skills and knowledge) was not going to have time.  Then DH and I started talking about how maybe if we asked DH's brother to help, instead of hiring someone, we could keep some of that money and put it in savings.  The materials for the roof only cost $700, so we could potentially have some left over!  DH's brother is 35 years old and has never had a job--he has OCD and some other mental health issues (a word to the wise that I did not heed--be aware of the possibilities if close family members of your new love suffer from mental illness) but has done a lot of work on DH's mom's house and he typically (partially due to the OCD) does excellent, by-the-book work.  Our hope was that because it was family, we wouldn't have to pay him much (if anything) for helping, and we could put some money in savings.

So DH's brother agreed to come up, and DH's mom came along to "help".  I hope I've mentioned before that I love my mother in law, because I do.

Now at this point I need to back us up again, to where my mother in law bought me new tires when we couldn't afford them.  She (and her siblings) had sold some land and she had quite a bit of money at the time.  I was very grateful.

Unfortunately, she blew through that money like nobody's business (it only took her about a year of helping her kids and buying stupid stuff and fixing up her house...).  She is now broke and she is even less frugal than DH, if that is possible.  And I mean she is broke.  She cannot afford her medications right now (she's in the 'donut hole').  I've been sending her money here and there to try to help but that is making it even harder for me to pay our own bills.  I've given her a website where she can buy cheap (and safe) medications from overseas.  I've given her a Senior Helpline number that is to help people pay for their medications.  And I've urged her to go to the county and see what help she qualifies for and what programs they might know about that I don't.  She refuses to try any of these things.  She says she will, never does, then asks for more money.

So she and DH's brother show up at our house.  The very first thing that I find out is that DH's mom's tires are so bad that they are "undriveable".  So she drove five hours to our house on undriveable tires and has no money.  Why on earth would she not mention this before setting out?  A trip to the tire shop confirmed that all four tires were scary bad and undriveable and the tire shop guy (who we know to be honest) was too concerned about safety to agree to just selling two tires so.....

We (I) got stuck paying for four new tires for DH's mom's car so that when she went home, she would be safe.  Ok.  That's fair.  She bought me tires, right?  Her new tires cost $733 (she has a Toyota RAV4).  I'm sure you figured out that we didn't have that kind of money budgeted for anything except the roof.

Anyhow, two things happened with the roof that weren't anticipated wholly.  Ok, maybe three things.  First, it was discovered that that particular section of roof not only had two layers of shingles on it, but also, underneath the shingles, were cedar shakes.  That meant a LOT more tearing off of roofing than was anticipated.  The second thing was that DH did not help AT ALL.  NOT ONE BIT.  I think everyone was kind of surprised about that, kind of, but not shocked.  So now DH's brother is re-roofing with absolutely no help at all.  I had at least figured on DH to be able to hand his brother things.  Nope.  The third thing?  DH's brother--he does great work--but he works slower than frozen molasses in January.

So it wound up taking a lot longer than anticipated.  And DH's mom and brother were staying with us.  And every single day she would tell both DH and I that we HAD to put "that dog" to sleep (Sarah).  Finally, DH had to tell her to shut up, because we were both on the brink of saying something not-so-nice to her about it.  But that sort of thing is normal with DH's mom--she's very outspoken and opinionated and doesn't think before she speaks.  She used to tell us to "get rid" of DD, too.  So I wasn't too surprised by this.

I knew I was going to have to pay DH's brother something--it wouldn't be fair not to.  He was doing a LOT more work than I thought he would have to.  I told him that I'd be sending a check home with him but that he wouldn't be able to cash it right away.  He was fine with that and seemed a little surprised and happy that I planned to pay him something.

Anyhow, after they had been there for about two weeks (not a typo) (and yes, we were feeding them most of the time, too), the roof still wasn't done.  But we were going to get a big windstorm, so they decided to go home and come back when the weather was better.  Since I hate having company of any kind, I was fine with that!!!  I came up with $150 extra for gas, etc.  because I knew DH's mom didn't have much money and I was appreciative of their help.

Then they came back.  And everyone was getting frustrated by how slow DH's brother was working, but he was working steady and I knew it would be done right, so even when DH's mom would berate him about how slow things were going, I just kept telling him to not worry about that, because we were just grateful that he was "helping" (or doing all the work).  We were still feeding them (including buying food we wouldn't normally have on hand because DH's brother is a vegetarian), and by this time it was clear that we really hadn't saved ANY money by doing it this way.  In fact, we had gone significantly over budget.  But at least we were getting the work done by someone we trusted (rolling eyes).

Then DH's mom asked me how much we were going to pay his brother.  I (thinking things were normal) told her that I would probably send a check for a hundred dollars home with him and I was going to tell her that he couldn't cash it right away, but she interrupted and started yelling at the top of her lungs that THAT WASN'T ENOUGH.  HE WORKED EVERY DAY.  I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU ARE DOING THIS TO HIM.  I calmly told her that I was working as hard as I could and our budget was not healthy in the first place (I was very tempted to point out that we would have had a lot more money to pay people if we hadn't spent $700+ on tires etc., but I bit my tongue), but she just continued to yell at me.  I was shocked, as I had never seen her like this before.  I honestly don't think I did anything wrong except try not to overspend.  But maybe I did mess up.

Then she abruptly announced that they were leaving, and they did.  They left the roof unfinished.  I sent DH's brother home with two checks.  One for $75 (I figured if I was going to get yelled at anyhow, I might as well not break the bank and do the $100 I was planning on) and a blank check dated three weeks from now, that I planned on telling him the amount as soon as I got paid and knew how much we could afford.

Miracle of miracles, DH was able to finish the shingling.  Kind of.  The shingles are up, anyhow.  The edges still need to be trimmed and the vent isn't right, but the shingles are on, anyhow.  And I guess that's the best it's gonna get for now, because we're getting snow....

Anyhow, DH's mom called and apparently DH's brother is having to turn over his roofing pay to her because his mom is so broke.  So DH's mom wants to know how soon "he" can cash the check(s).  DH told her that I wrote the date(s) on the checks.  She got angry with him when he said he didn't think they could cash the checks early, because he said he had to ask me first.

Then last night, she called again.  In one breath she told DH that she is driving out to Montana (he asked her how and she said she'd find a way (I have no idea why)).  And then she asked if she could cash one of those checks yet.  When DH said he didn't think so, she got angry with him again and then started yelling at him about me.  She apparently told him that I treat the dogs better than I treat him, etc.

And yet she still won't go to the county.  Or try any of the other resources that I gave her.  She'd rather get mad when we don't have the money she wants (and it isn't even hers!).

I started to cry when I was talking with DH about it, and he told me that his mom was like this a long time ago, long before I ever met her.  "Then she got a job and started getting nice."  He wondered if maybe because she's so broke, that she had mental health meds that she wasn't taking (DH thinks his mom wouldn't tell if she was taking those kinds of meds).  He reminded me that I always tell him that "That Guy" is "angry, selfish, and impulsive".  Then he said "maybe this is "That Mom"".  Made me laugh.  But I'm thinking he might be on to something.....


Unknown said...

How frustrating! And sad.

Just a little word of advice. If she is "that Mom" I would really, seriously, think about putting a stop payment on the blank check you sent home with them. I'm "that Mom" when I don't take my medication and when my life was in a place where I felt desperate there wasn't anything I wouldn't do to survive or to accomplish whatever goal seemed important to me at the moment. You can tell them you had an issue with your account and send them a money order. I realize that it will cost you another $20 or so dollars but it would be a lot cheaper than an entire paycheck being gone...

I hope you can look out at the snow today and see the beauty in it, even for just a few minutes. :)


Miz Kizzle said...

Sounds like you learned a lot from this experience. I hope the roof holds up through the winter, at least. Sounds like you live far enough out in the boonies that a building inspector is unlikely to wander by and ask to see a permit for the work and then check whether it's up to code or not. When you sell your house problems with the roof may be detected during the inspection process. But I suppose you'll cross that bridge when you come to it.
The tire situation seems like a wash, financially, since the tires she bought you were probably less expensive than the ones you bought for her however she's helped you and your DH out a lot financially in the past, from what you've reported on your blog.
You didn't say how old your MIL is but her behavior seems irrational -- the spending, driving on unsafe tires, the proposed trip to Montana. She may also be suffering the effects of going off her meds.
Anyway, I'll bet you're glad your houseguests are gone.

Grace. said...

It just all comes at ya at once, doesn't it? The whole situation would be funnier if it weren't so darn sad. But Carol, you have all you can do to take care of DH and DD and your mother. There's no way you can add M-in-law to the mix. I'd worry a bit about that blank check--not only can she fill it in with whatever she wants, BUT if she deposited it, the bank would probably cash it and overdraw your accounts.

Carol said...

The blank check was actually not intentional. I had postdated the blank check and given it to DH with the understanding that he would talk to his mom and figure out an amount and fill it in. (I was willing to accept the possibility that I was being too cheap or a jerk). But DH misunderstood and sent the blank check, thinking that I meant "later". I won't do that again, and while I am concerned about the blank check, I don't THINK that she would take advantage of it, so right now I'm giving her the benefit of a doubt.

But believe me, I'll never have anything to do with finances with her again. I'm a slow learner, but I do learn....